Chapter 13: Contemplation
Three Months Ago:
Joey Washburn stood in the bakery in Bishop, CA , trying to figure out what loaf of bread she wanted this time. She always was fond of the honey wheat, but she also liked the sourdough. She was fairly used to the whispers by now for whenever she went out to places.
People in Bishop were fairly gossipy.
But Joey had passed the point of caring for the most part. She had her own things to deal with and worry about.
“I’ll get the honey wheat loaf.” she said dreamily to the baker at the counter. The baker simply grunted and went to the shelves.
“The devil’s inside that one.”
Joey had barely heard the woman tell her child this a few feet behind her. She turned around and waved, giving a wide smile. The woman gave a look of disdain and led her child away.
“No one will ever like you.” A voice whispered in her ear.
Joey kept her smile on her face and paid for her bread. Every now and then the spirit sapper that followed her around Bishop occasionally would say things to her that only she could hear.
“I don’t need people to like me Dulagar.” she told it under her breath. “I don’t care anyways.”
The spirit sapper appeared in front of her as she started to walk down the street, it’s face looking like someone she used to know-a small boy with curly brown hair and freckles.
“Of course you care.” it sneered, the floating head mocking her. “You can’t go like this forever.”
“Watch me.” Joey said stubbornly, bringing out her spray bottle and spraying it in the face. Angrily, the face disappeared. As soon as it was gone, Joey sighed, and continued to walk down the road by herself.
“Leave me alone!” a voice exclaimed. Joey stopped and looked around. It had come from the woods over by the creek. Curiously, she deviated off of her path and walked towards the sound of yelling and laughter from the trees.
When she came through, she saw a group of children playing in the water, pointing and laughing at a little girl in a tree with frizzy pigtails and large front teeth.
“Leave me alone!” the girl yelled down at them as the others attempted to throw mud up at her.
“Come on down and play in the water Beaver!” one of the boys sneered.
“Stop calling me that!”
“Hey. Why don’t you boys run home and stop bothering her.” Joey interjected, causing them all to turn around.
“It’s the witch lady!!”
“Stay away witch lady!”
Joey was used to kids calling her this.
“Leave her alone please.” she told them, ignoring the name calling. Instead, they started to throw mud and rocks at her.
Joey paid them no attention as the mud slapped her in the face and slid down her cheek and the small rocks bounced off of her mostly harmlessly. She sighed.
“If you don’t leave her alone, I guess I’ll have to cast a spell on you.”
At this, the boys shrieked and took off.
Of course, Joey didn’t really cast spells. She knew that witchcraft and stuff like that was mostly just a bunch of baloney. She had only really done one spell or ritual in her life.
And she would never do one again.
“Are you ok?” she asked the little girl kindly as she got down. The little girl slipped and fell in some of the mud. Joey bent down to help her up, but the little girl slapped her away.
“Don’t touch me witch lady!” she exclaimed, slapping the bag of bread out of her hands. She stuck her tongue out and then ran for it. Joey stood there in the silence of the forest for a moment, and then bent down to pick up her bread. Luckily, it hadn’t really been damaged-just some mud on the outside bag.
She sighed again and turned to leave the woods.
“No one’s going to ever accept you.” a voice echoed. Joey’s expressionless face did not change.
“It doesn’t matter.” she said quietly as she took up her path along the road. “I don’t need anyone to.”
Joey shifted in her seat rather nervously, looking at the four people seated in the round booth they were all sitting in. They had decided to all drive down to Ridgecrest-to a pizza place. Pinnacle Gulch had given them all enough ghosts and crazy people for the day.
Joey tried to think if she had ever been invited to go out with anyone. Had she ever gone out with people? Maybe. But not like this.
“So what exactly happened?! Give me all the details!” Brian demanded, pounding his fists on the table as they waited for pizza. As Jordyn started to recount the beginning of her story on how she suspected the two women in the first place, Joey listened and thought hard about the last time she sat down and really talked with anyone. Were these four strangers really the first people in a while that she had sat down and talked with?
She didn’t count the spirit sapper, who had thankfully stayed up in Bishop with all the other people who tried to torment her.
It wasn’t that she was really bothered by the people that hated her, or even the spirit sapper itself. It had been trying to bring her down for years without any success.
So what was she feeling right now?
“Oh and man-you should have seen Joey, cause she just walked right up to the ghost guy like it was normal.” Ian expressed.
“Yes, by the way Joey, thank you for coming in to help. I know we just kind of dragged you into all of this.” Jordyn said.
“Hey-you never said thank you to me for coming to save you from the cultists.” Ian complained. Jordyn rolled her eyes.
“That’s cause you didn’t save me from anything. You just jumped in and got yourself just as trapped as I was.”
At this, Brian, Roderick, and Joey laughed as Ian leaned back in his part of the booth and pouted. Joey smiled, realizing that she was really the grateful one.
Simply grateful to be included.